Hello Winter…Cauliflower, Leek & Watercress Soup

Hello Winter… It is the first day of Winter in Australia and it has definitely shown up ready for the party. It was a crisp chilly morning on the GC. The kids all slept in late (which never happens) making us rush for the school drop off creating plenty of hysteria in the house. Welcome Winter I can not wait! (slight sarcasm)

After visiting my sister in the vibrant city of Melbourne I can’t complain much they have been putting up with cooler weather for months now. I came back gaining a better understanding on how weather affects places differently and how it affects your city socially. We all know that in our warm climate here in Queensland we don’t really have respect for the cold and can’t cope with a day under 20’C. It is apparent that we all go into hibernation mode as soon as winter peaks it head out.

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Spaghetti with Garlic Prawns, Tomato, White Wine & Chilli with a Toasted Sourdough Crumb

I have finally got around to posting this absolutely sumptuous seafood dish sorry for the delay life just gets in the way sometimes. Now with school holidays in full swing I find I have a little extra time to do catch up.

With Easter weekend only days away does anyone else eat meat free on Good Friday?

In our family we have been brought up in continuing this tradition. Which isn’t too hard for me as I don’t eat a lot of red meat these days anyway and my husband doesn’t need any more excuses to lash out and enjoy a seafood feast. We usually get together with the family and indulge  in all things from the sea. From fresh prawns and oysters to cooked calamari and baked fish even if you aren’t that religious how could you refuse, after all you have another 364 days to tuck into a roast or steak if you feel the need. Easter Sunday follows with the usual roast lamb with baked vegetables, a typical Easter spread like most Australian families. Whether you celebrate this time of year of not and besides the religious attachment to it food is a great way of bringing people together, friends, family, partners, kids to share a special meal together.

This spaghetti & prawn dish is about as simple as it comes anyone can whip this up and you have a perfectly impressive seafood meal for Good Friday feasting.

Spaghetti with Garlic Prawns, Tomato, White Wine and Chilli with a Parmesan Crumb

  • Servings: 4
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[recipe- ingredients]

500g spaghetti

salt

2tbs butter

2 garlic cloves crushed

1/4 cup chopped parsley

400g green raw prawns shelled and de-veined

1 tb olive oil

1/2 -1 small red chilli sliced

200g cherry tomatoes

1 cup white wine

1/2 lemon juiced

Sourdough Crumb

1/4 cup sourdough breadcrumbs

1-2 tbs olive oil

1/2 lemon zest

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

extra chopped parsley to top

[/recipe-ingredients]

Directions

  1. In a bowl mix butter, garlic, parsley together then cover the prawns in the butter mixture and set aside in the fridge until needed.
  2. Heat a large pot of boiling water. Once boiling add 1 teaspoon salt and spaghetti. Cook per packet instructions.
  3. Meanwhile heat a large pan over high heat. Add 1 tbs olive oil then add the garlic butter prawns and sliced chilli. Cook for  1-2 mins then add the white wine and cherry tomatoes and lemon juice. Cook for a further 2 mins.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked drain reserving a little of the water, add to the pan along with the pasta and toss through the prawns.
  5. To make the sourdough crumb heat a small frypan on medium heat add the breadcrumbs olive oil and lemon zest to the pan. Cook the breadcrumbs until become toasted and crisp. Take off the heat and add the parmesan stir to combine.
  6. Top pasta with the parmesan crumb and extra parsley and a drizzle of extra olive oil.

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Turmeric Spiced Polenta Eggplant Chips

 

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One thing I have been mad about lately is the spice turmeric. There has been a lot of chat about this golden spice in recent times for its wonderful medicinal health benefits. Even though the Indian & Asian culture has been using it to flavour and colour their curries and traditional dishes for centuries the western culture has finally caught on to the many wonderful benefits it contains including anti-inflammatory properties, cancer prevention, improves brain function, prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, helps with arthritis pain, and also has proven benefits to help against depression.

turmeric-roots-and-a-jar-of-turmeric-powder

 

But how do we use it? 

Well apart from the usual use in curries and indian/asian dishes I like to use it to flavour all sorts of vegetables such as baked cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potatoes anything really it gives it a subtle spiced flavour without being too over powering. I also add a couple tablespoons to my polenta coating to make these eggplant chips and wow did  it come out delicious. You can either buy the powder  or use fresh turmeric peel it and grate a 5cm piece, warning though can no will stain your hands, chopping boards and well anything it comes in contact with so if this bothers you use kitchen gloves and be careful in the preparation.

I served them with a Turmeric Garlic Aioli and well I have to say I am now turmeric obsessed! So hopefully in the future I’ll be an elderly woman still happy, fit and active with all my heart, joints and marbles in check. This definitely fits the saying “A teaspoon a day will keep the doctor away!”

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Turmeric Spiced Polenta Eggplant Chips with Turmeric Garlic Aioli

  • Servings: 2-4
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Ingredients

1 large eggplant cut into thick chips

1 1/2 cups polenta (cornmeal)

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

2 tsp turmeric powder or 5 cm piece fresh peeled and grated turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 eggs whisked

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200’C
  2. Place Polenta and spices and seasonings in a medium bowl. Place whisked eggs in a separate bowl
  3. Coat the eggplant chips first in the egg then into the polenta mix making sure to generously coat them evenly
  4. Place eggplants on a lined baking tray drizzle with olive oil
  5. Bake in oven for 15mins then turn over and cook for further 10-15mins until golden and soft in the centre.
  6. Serve with Turmeric Garlic Aioli

Notes: Can be served as a starter or as a side with your favourite protein meat or fish.

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A Christmas That Was..

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Christmas has been and gone for another year, It is always a busy time with school finishing up, gift buying and wrapping, end of year parties and of course the food prepping and the big day itself.

Time has been spent with family, over indulging in food, drinks and having relaxing quality time spend  with the children, how it should be. So blogging was put on a temporary hold, but now as we slowly wind back into routine and the new year has come upon us I thought I would share my Christmas treats and pictures and reminisce on a special time of year that was filled with love, family, food and happy memories.

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The day was spent firstly with my side of the family, this year was just my sister and parents. My mother made a beautiful roast turkey and baked lunch and we spent the day unwrapping presents, eating, drinking, talking and the kids playing making special memories. I was in charge of desserts and made the Australian traditional Pavlova Wreath Cake with fresh cream and topped with all sorts of fresh berries and passionfruit. It was so fresh and light prefect for our hot summer days we are having here at the moment.

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I also brought my Christmas Cake  made with dried  figs, dates and raisins I have to say I am not a fan of the traditional version with fruit peel, this version from Donna Hay’s Christmas edition magazine was a pleasant surprise. Both desserts did contain sugar but hey if there is one day of the year to treat yourself it’s Christmas.

The feasting didn’t stop there…

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Next stop was my husband’s side of the family. The whole family of four siblings, partners and children all went to my parents in laws place, the kids exchanged presents and with 9 children you can imagine the chaos. Though it is one time I don’t mind the screams, the mess and craziness as  it all out of joy. To see your children’s faces of excitement is one of life’s true happy moments as parents. The happiness it brings to them not just to open the gifts they have been waiting all year for but also to share it with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents  it is truly special.

We continue eating..

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We celebrated together with my mother in laws famous seafood lasagna and fresh seafood of parwns, garlic bbq prawns and oysters. A tradition for Christmas dinner in their family. And I was also appointed desserts (now you can see where my time has been spent) I made a Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding Tart with the Italian Christmas Panetonne. If you haven’t heard of Panetonne it is a traditional Italian bread that is usually eaten at Easter and Christmas. They come in different  varieties, some plain, some with sultanas or chocolate. Being from Italian background we end up with a whole collection of them after relatives give as gifts. So a good way to use them is by making this pudding. I used the plain variety and added dark chocolate to it. We served it with custard and pouring cream and boy was it good! No complaints even from the most fussiest family members.

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To top off the dessert and sugar overload was this homemade Lemon Meringue Tart. A little sickly sweet for me who doesn’t normally eat sugar. The lemon curd turned out perfectly lemony and rich and the sweet short crust pastry was buttery and crumbly it was drool worthy. The toasted meringue on top turns this dessert into a  show stopper, the woos of the crowd as it was brought out was enough for me to know its a sure winner!

Bellies full, tired eyes and sleepy children sums up the end of another Christmas for us. Grateful to have loved ones around us and time well spent with the people we love most ♥.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy year ahead and look forward to sharing more healthy, motivating meals for you all in 2017.

 

 

From Sea to Plate.. Crab & Pea Risotto with Tomato, Parsley & White Wine

It’s that time of year again.. everyone knows Christmas is just a few weeks away but I’m talking  ‘Crabbing Season’. One good thing about living in the southern hemisphere and having Christmas in Summer means that we can enjoy beautiful fresh seafood at this time of year. Fortunate for us Aussies we can source it from our very own backyard literally!
Living on the Gold Coast waterways definitely has its perks, as a guide we like to follow the rule of any month ending in “R” is best months for crabbing, though when December rolls around its serious business catching them in time for Christmas Day celebrations. My husband has become well-known for his crab catching so when the holidays start he is out on the canals everyday after work with my boys checking the pots for the daily catch. The boys love it and can’t wait for Dad to get home to throw on their life jackets and help with the retrieval even the two-year old now gets in on the action. It’s an exciting bonding time they share together that will stay with remember and pass down to their children one day.

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Mudcrabs are the main catch here in Queensland while southern states catch more of the Blue Swimmer varieties. Similar in taste, though the Blue swimmer is a little smaller with less meat and have a blueish colouring. We like to save them up, invite family and friends over and do a big cook up. The bibs come out, and we get down and dirty licking every last bit of flavour off our fingertips now that is finger licking good!

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Over the years we have experimented with different recipes which now my husband seems to think he has perfected the famous Singapore Chilli Mudcrab after our recent trip to Singapore earlier this year and yet to have anyone disagree.With seafood restaurants charging their own ‘market price’ you can easily pay over $100 for a meal like that, so learning the crabbing techniques and secrets over the years has certainly paid off in abundance.

My husband absolutely loves Seafood and will indulge in its glory at any opportunity he gets. When we first met I didn’t eat any  Seafood at all to his amazement, well they do say opposites attract and that certainly was the case for us. Over the years I have  experimented and had to broaden my horizons. I have made dishes for him that I have started to enjoy also and  I have to say I have slowly learnt to like it too. I am still not as big of a seafood lover as hubby is which he doesn’t seem to mind, more for him he is quick to respond.

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Apart from devouring a feast of Chilli Crabs as a meal on its own,  it’s also nice to boil and de-shell and use the meat in other dishes such as pastas and risotto. The sweet seafood works so well with simple flavours also making sure not to use anything that’s too overpowering, you don’t want to spoil the beautiful flavour of the sea that these unique crustacean obtain. Garlic, white wine, onion and chilli are usually great accompaniments to add. Along with simple herbs such as parsley and vegetables like peas, asparagus and tomato. I used these ingredients to make this exquisite  Crab Risotto which had my husband jaw dropped and drooling, you know what they say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and after 13 years of marriage I certainly know what makes his tummy content. With Crab season well underway looks like there will be more crab recipes this summer to come stay tuned.

Crab and Pea Risotto with Tomato, Parsley and White Wine

A beautiful delicate Seafood dish to impress the most fussy of  foodie friends or A romantic dinner for two to spoil the other half

[recipe- ingredients]

1 tb butter

1 small onion finely diced

1 stalk of celery finely diced

1 tsp salt

pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1 garlic clove crushed

1 ts thyme leaves

zest of a lemon

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 can diced tomato

2 tb flat leaf parsley finely chopped

4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken is fine if you don’t have crab stock)

1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 cup cooked crab

freshly ground salt and pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

[/recipe-ingredients]

Directions

  1. Heat stock in a small saucepan on low heat
  2. In a medium/large saucepan on high heat melt butter then add onion and saute for 3 mins until softened.
  3. Add celery, garlic, cayenne, thyme, lemon zest and pinch of salt saute for a further 3 mins
  4. Add the rice and stir through, followed by the white wine lower heat and allow to simmer until the wine has reduced by half
  5. Stirring constantly start adding ladles of the stock one ladle at a time, making sure to add another ladle once the stock is absorbed. You need to constantly watch and stir the pot.
  6. Once the rice is tender (al dente) but  still a little firm  add the peas, diced tomato, parsley and cooked  crab meat, stirring and adding some more stock mix through and finish off by adding the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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